Rhubarb Spoom

Think you have tested all kinds of sorbets? Why not give spoom a try then? This particular recipe differs in many ways from “a typical sorbet”. Thanks to a low liquid content and a lot of egg whites, the flavour sensation becomes softer, foamier and more velvety than standard sorbets. Spoom – a noble, tasty and very particular type of sorbet, if you ask me. 


Rhubarb spoom, a particular type of sorbet

A while ago,  my ice cream-making friend Lena handed me this recipe. And I am grateful, because if it had not been for Lena’s personal recommendation, I would probably have dismissed the recipe if I had come across it myself. Why? Because at the time, I had never heard about spoom! The recipe conforms rather badly to the standard way of making a sorbet. On the other hand, the result you get when making spoom is in no way a standard sorbet either, so it all adds up.

Spoom – a particular type of sorbet

Basically, spoom is a type of frothy, airy sorbet where, instead of the usual amount of sugar syrup, you add a lot of whipped egg whites (preferably in the form of Italian meringue) to the sorbet base. The term, it is believed, comes from the Italian word spuma (foam) – quite appropriate, given spoom’s somewhat foamy consistency. Note, however, that the Italian term Spumone refers to another type of layered frozen dessert, not to be confused with spoom …

According to some ‘spoom-purists’, the present recipe is probably a kind of quick-fix-shortcut. Why? Because we will simply be mixing the fruit puré/syrup with raw whipped egg whites, not with Italian meringue. And while I strongly encourage everyone to try using Italian meringue in sorbets (give it a go, at least once! 😉 ), I will be faithful to Lena’s recipe – it saves a lot of time, and will still produce very interesting results.

Spoom is often served in high glasses, sometimes also with some sparkling wine added on top. You might want to think about that for an even more festive presentation.

Egg whites whipped stiff - one easy way of creating spoom

Egg whites whipped stiff – one easy way of creating spoom. And two well-whipped egg whites will be quite voluminous …

However, since the egg whites used are raw, the usual health caveats apply: if you do not have access to pasteurised raw eggs, toddlers, pregnant women, the elderly and others with health concerns should avoid this. Or prepare some Italian meringue and use that instead of the whipped egg white!

The fascinating thing with spoom is the way the egg whites – be they in the form of Italian meringue or not – create a soft, foamy, voluminous and almost ‘silken-like’ consistency. A standard sorbet should typically be based on a sugar syrup with more liquid. But for spooms, the whipped egg whites make up for this and make the sorbet work anyway. Still, this is a frozen creation that really shines when served relatively freshly churned. In other words – for the best experience, aim to enjoy it the same day it is made!

Rhubarb spoom in the making

While spoom obviously can be made with most flavours, Lena’s recipe called for rhubarb. And since I love and adore rhubarb, I saw no reason to deviate.

Caravan crossing the Silk Road (detail of the map of Asia), the Catalan Atlas Spain, Majorca 14th century

Writing this blog can be quite educational: I did not know that Rhubarb originally came from China, and – via the Silk Road – only came to Europe (in a more steady fashion) as late as in the 14th century. And it would take rhubarb until the 1820’s to arrive and settle in the US.

Preparing spoom with egg whites whipped stiff is very simple. So is making the rhubarb purée: rhubarb contains quite a lot of water, and the pieces will usually have softened enough to be puréed after less than ten minutes of cooking. Just let the purée cool down (preferably even chill for some time in the refrigerator) before adding the whipped egg whites and churning the spoom.

Very easy - just mix the rhubarb purée with the whipped egg whites and churn it!

Very easy – just mix the rhubarb purée with the whipped egg whites and churn it!

Clearly, the overall tasting experience is very particular and different from that of ‘normal’ sorbets. Because of the high proportion of whipped egg white, the spoom does not feel particularly cold in the mouth: quite unusual for a frozen dessert. That said, these characteristics may not be to everyone’s liking – my talented Czech ice cream friend Katerina who values purity of flavours considers that the egg whites tend to mask the fruit flavours. 

But personally, I was pleasantly surprised and rather thrilled. Rhubarb is a good, strong flavour in itself but the way it became softly embedded in the spoom’s special, foamy and almost velvety-like texture … it just felt like something markedly different, and pleasantly exciting.  As noted, the special qualities of spoom are best experienced quite soon after churning so try to enjoy it the same day it is being made.

In conclusion: Regardless of whether you want to prepare it with traditional Italian meringue, or use the simpler, faster whipped egg whites: Try a spoom today!

Rhubarb spoom

Rhubarb spoom

Rhubarb spoom sorbet
My friend Lena pointed me to this recipe for an unusually smooth and velvety rhubarb sorbet - a spoom! This spoom is basically built upon a combination of fruit purée and hard-whipped (raw) egg white. Spoom purists or those concerned about the potential health hazards of using raw (and unpasteurised), whipped egg whites should use Italian meringue instead (if so, aim to add at least the equivalent of 2 egg whites' worth of meringue).
  • 300 gram rhubarb (roughly about 2-3 stalks, peeled and cut into rather thin pieces)
  • 200 ml (0.85 cup) sugar
  • 100 ml (0.4 cup) water
  • 1 tablespoon inverted sugar (agave nectar, corn- or glucose syrup and their likes)
  • 2 egg whites
  1. Peel and cut the rhubarb stalks in smaller pieces.
  2. Put in a sauce pan with the sugar and the water for about 8-10 minutes, until the rhubarb has turned soft.
  3. Prepare a purée (using, for example, a hand-held mixer), and add the inverted sugar. Let cool down.
  4. Whip the egg whites to stiff foam and blend into the cooled-down rhubarb purée. Churn in your ice cream machine, or still-freeze using your freezer.


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